On Tour Tomorrow

July 18, 2015 (16)I was in the garden early this morning. Early enough that the dew still covered every surface.  The agreement to be on a garden tour is just the beginning.  Of course you want every moment in the garden to mean something, and make a good case for that meaning. The planning starts months ahead, long about when you see what did not survive the winter, and later, when you go to plant the pots.

July 18, 2015 (31)That comittment to put your garden out there is one part bravado, one part luck, one part a benevolent mother nature, and 100 parts work.  I try to mitigate those circumstances with my clients as much as I can for the Greening tour. Monica Tabares from the Greening staffs every garden with two people. Detroit Garden Works springs for tee shirts for all of them, including the shop staff, so every tour person remembers that this event is all about the work that the Greening does.  This year means 28 people – the morning and the afternoon shifts – will be staffing the 7 gardens on tour.  Monica has told me in years past that the tour docents are volunteers from the Wayne State dental school.  I never asked about how that came to be, but I appreciate all of those students who take time on a Sunday to help make the experience a good one for all.

July 18, 2015 (18)Both crews from Deborah Silver and Co pitch in. We handle this and that.  We are available to replace plants that have gone down from whitefly, or add new grass in spots that need it. And we send tickets to the tour and reception for every client who agrees to put their garden on tour.  Some enjoy the day at homer meeting fellow gardeners.  Others leave the garden in the capable hands of the Greening people, and go on tour themselves.  Others yet are willing, but able to keep a comittment in another place that day.

July 18, 2015 (9)Every landscape that is on our tour belongs to people for whom the garden is a way of life.  Every tree, shrub, perennial and seasonal plant gets in the ground is a result of the belief that stewardship of the environment is a pleasure, a joy, and a responsibility.  The Greening has been all about that belief, since 1989.  They have planted in excess of 90,000 trees in the city of the Detroit since their inception.  They sponsor urban farms.  They teach people how to care for trees, and grow food.

July 18, 2015 (23)They are a self sufficient non profit organization. Meaning they have staff who apply for grants, and raise money.  I sit on their board, but after my first board meeting I knew that I would never catch up to their history and long range plans enough to be of any use to them. So 8 years ago Rob and I decided to put on this tour, all of the proceeds of which would go to the Greening.

July 18, 2015 (27)The money we have raised usually goes to those programs that cannot be funded by grants – programs that rely on donations.  One of those programs involves hiring young people with not so much opportunity to obtain a job.  The Greening pays them to water newly planted trees, and tend vegetable patches.  I have had occasion to hear about what an impact this experience has had on young people who were so fortunate to participate in this program. Of course I like the idea that young people become exposed to the work, and the satisfaction that gardening provides.

July 18, 2015 (67)I can barely remember my life before I grew plants, and gardened. I would want to do what I could to pass that along to others.  Especially young people. My generation will need young people to grow peonies, and heirloom tomatoes, and as many trees as they can mange. Suffice it to say that this is a cause near and dear to my heart.

July 18, 2015 (8)Monica W, the manager of Detroit Garden Works, Deborah Silver and Co, and the Branch Studio, organizes the reception we hold after the tour at the store. She furthermore organizes all of the ticket sales, so soon after the tour we have a check available to the Greening.  It is an amazing amount of work on her part to make it all seem effortless. Though she is very much behind the scenes, she is the unusual combination of the work of an engineer, and the work of a compassionate and caring person.

July 18, 2015 (49)As for me, my garden will be on tour for the 8th time tomorrow. I am happy with most everything I see.  The delphiniums that bloomed their hearts out in early June are suffering from a fungus brought on by the cold and rainy early summer.  I have no plans to replace this plant, or disguise it.  I am a gardener, and I have plenty of trouble in my garden.  It comes with the territory.

July 18, 2015 (51)I have talked with every client who has a garden on tour tomorrow. To the last they are concerned about this bad spot, or that plant that is not performing, or some boxwood still showing signs of damage from last winter.  My job near the time of the tour is to suggest that no garden on this tour is a show garden.  They are gardens that belong to real people.  People with kids, jobs, and lots of other responsibilities. Our tour is a chance for people who garden to see what other people who garden do.  This tour is about exchange. My garden is for all to see what it is –  tomorrow.

July 18, 2015 (50)Though some parts of my perennial patch are not so swell, other places look fine to my eye.  I have no doubt that every person who visits my garden tomorrow will remember the good things.  None of them will hold my failures against me.  Why would they?

July 18, 2015 (59)After years of trying to get herniaria to take hold in this garden in the front of my house, I grassed over it.  The grass looks great, and is easy to keep. I am happy to come home, and not have to weed the herniaria.

July 18, 2015 (5)If you are able to come on our tour tomorrow, I would encourage you to do so.  We have 7 really beautiful landscapes and gardens for you to see.  If you are too far away to be here – I will post pictures of all of the gardens next week. So looking forward to the tour tomorrow-this is my news.



  1. Would not miss the Cruise for the world. We are nine strong this year; over half are from Taiwan. The Cruise is to be shared❤️

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Jane, it would not be a cruise without you! So happy you are bringing friends, and friends from far away. best, Deborah

  2. I love the fact that you are okay having some things that may not be perfect, like you say, not show gardens. But there are so many show stopper sights and views and ideas to take home after the Cruise. Wish I could be there…but will be with you, the staff and the gardeners in spirit. Thanks for all you do Deborah. -g

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Greg, we so appreciate your contribution to the Greening, and your support! all our thanks, Deborah

  3. Brian and Mark from Cleveland says

    Thank you for sharing and for using your delphinium example. I feel relieved and less afraid of one day being asked to show our gardens on a tour. We so wanted to come up tomorrow for the tour but it isn’t going to be possible this year. We eagerly await the photos and wish you and the Greening all the best for a successful and beautiful day tomorrow!

  4. I wish I could tour your garden. It looks beautiful, but I live in Canada. I look forward to the pictures. Best of luck.

  5. I so agree with you Deborah, not every thing has to be perfect. I work in my yard a lot but the work is never finished. If people can’t look at the good and respect gardeners, they need to garden themselves………….I wished I could go to the garden tour but I live in North Carolina. I go to the local garden tours. I am looking forward to your posting of these gardens.
    Thank you, Nancy

  6. “Of course you want every moment in the garden to mean something, and make a good case for that meaning.” Done, and done. xox.

  7. I have come all the way from Virginia to see the Garden Cruise this year. Thank you to all for putting your homes on tour!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Annette, I so appreciate your making the trip. I will be home all day for the cruise-please introduce yourself! Thanks, Deborah

  8. Looking forward to the photos. Here in Texas, everything is dry and even constant watering wont make my garden look like the lush green ones in your area. It will be an inspiration to see the garden tour photos!

  9. I am awaiting those gorgeous photos, so I too can go on the tour from my iPad. Much appreciated and all the best to having a great garden tour!:)

  10. What a wonderful gift to a worth organization! I wish I could just beam up and have a wander. I love your words ” stewardship of the environment is a pleasure, a joy, and a responsibility” Thank you for sharing!

  11. Ruth Wolery says

    good Luck with your garden tour. That is a wonderful thing to do and for the proceeds to go to a worthy project.
    I am looking forward to you photos. It will be a pleasure to see them.
    Ruth Wolery

  12. Mary Duffy says

    oh darn, next year perhaps. Debra, I love reading your blog. You have such a calm, genuine, kind voice. And I love the fact that you are leaving the delphiniums just the way they are and your aside, “it comes with the territory.”

  13. I hope your garden tour was a success. I wish I could go on every tour I read about. Unfortunately I live in the middle of nowhere and can’t get to most tours. I thrive on generous people like you that share their tours online. I am looking forward to seeing what you present. In this post I can’t take my eyes off of these beautiful planters. Do they have to be put away during winter? I am happy to see that you don’t disguise problems in the garden before the tour. It shows people that gardens are real, works of art that are ongoing and not without problems that we all have to face.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Lisa, my handmade Italian terra cotta goes in my garage for the winter-my car stays out! The big planters are English made concrete designed and fabricated in the classic Italian style. best, Deborah

      • I don’t blame you for ousting the car to put away the pots. Cars are necessary evils that don’t last. Those pots will outlast us all with the care you give them.

        • Deborah Silver says

          Dear Lisa, my chevy has 120,000 miles on it, and still runs great! It’s actually to big to get in my 1930 sized garage! That said, I do give my pots preferential treatment. best, Deborah

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